Thursday, September 25, 2008

How About DEADMOM?

Thanks, Google, for once again freaking me right the eff out.

How did Luke Wingo Die in The Prince of Tides? He was shot by Green Berets who were sent to the town to find him after he made some threats against the government, which had torn down his hometown to build a nuclear power plant. Of course, you could just re-read the book, but why? I just ruined the ending for you.

The Rock is Cooking's Mother I have to say, I am not sure what we're referring to here. If you mean Dwayne Johnson's mother, she's from royal Samoan lineage, but I can't seem to find a picture of her. If you're refering to just some random mother, cooking rock, allow me to suggest that a more apt Google search might be "Crack Whore Mom."

"I Hated Pan's Labrynth" Me too.

What Can I Knit For A Wedding Present? Depends. I am really liking organic cotton/linen washcloths with a monogrammed initial knit into them. They are quick to knit up and they're surprisingly beautiful and they last forever and just get softer and softer every time you use them. I am also a big fan of an afghan, although you really have to like someone a lot, because enough decent yarn for a whole afghan is, like, a pretty sizable investment. A woman who comes to my knitting group on Wednesday nights had friends who recently got married and she knitted them each a sweater and the bride's sweater was the most gorgeous winter-white wool cabled aran thing I think I've ever seen, it really was, and if your friends are sweater people, this makes a beautiful and deeply appreciated gift, particularly if they've been together awhile and already have lots of dishes and silverware. If you really are just friends with the bride and you're significantly more talented than me, you might think about doing a lacy wedding wrap or shawl in the palest blue you can find, and then it's her "something blue" and also her "something new." I have just reconnected with a friend from elementary school who is getting married in December and am already thinking about what might suit her. Along these lines, Trina and Gerry's wedding gift still isn't done, because I never ever knit just one thing at a time, but it is really almost finished and I can't wait to show you pictures.

My schedule is full, my schedule is tight I'm sorry, should I be thinking of a word that rhymes with "tight" to end this little poem with? Because that's not really what we do here.

Things a Woman Should Master Theoretical physics. Macroeconomics. Writing a sincere and gracious thank-you note. Picking out wines and beers. How to give a blow job. I may have just crossed a line; I'm just saying, these are things people appreciate.

Son flirts with Mom in the car Oedipus complex on wheels.

And the big winner:

Vanity plate ideas for mom who passed away Why does she need a vanity plate? She's not still driving, is she, for God sake?

The Bionic Woman

Hi. I'm a type I diabetic.

It just sucks so much ass.

I got what I thought was the flu in February of 2000. It didn't go away for three months. Then I started to lose weight. Soon I had lost 80 pounds.

I won't lie to you. I was pretty excited to be wearing a size 8. But as diets go, I gotta say, I can't recommend it. It put me in the hospital for about six days.

This is all a very, very long story, one that I don't have time to tell. I would love to tell you the story, but it'll have to wait, because this particular area of my life is about to start to suck so much less.

Here's why.

The trainer is on her way to my house to teach me how to use it. I am beyond thrilled.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Story: Six and Seven

The spring before I start kindergarten, my mother and I move in with another separated mother. She has three children: two boys and a younger girl. With me inserted in there, there is exactly three years in age difference between all of us. She is getting divorced from a wealthy, extremely successful child psychologist, and she has an enormous house with a pool and a huge backyard. My mother and I have two enormous bedrooms in the basement, where there is also a rec room with a wet bar and an air hockey table, a ballet studio, and a well-appointed changing room for the pool. We have our own bathroom with a shower and a tub.

It is somewhere around this time that I remember beginning to narrate things happening around me in the third person in my head, as though I'm a character in a book. Also right around this time, I learn to open my bedroom window next to my bed and crawl out of it, in case there's a fire. I don't tell anyone that I know how to do this, and my room is on the ground floor, which seems serendipitous to me for some reason. To me, some sort of an emergency in which a hasty retreat is essential seems almost inevitable.

I remember it being a wonderful year. My father had two older sons from a previous marriage who are occasionally around, but this is the first time that it ever really felt like I had siblings. Our mothers share childcare and other household duties.

I go to Indian Prairie Elementary School for morning kindergarten. In the afternoon, I go to a home daycare a couple of blocks behind the Westwood Volunteer Fire Station. The daycare provider is experienced and capable and typically has a house full of other kids to play with. For the first time, it occurs to me that I have never really had friends before. Those five years growing up in the resort town on Lake Michigan has meant that the same kids are rarely around for more than a few days at a time, if that, and I have had to entertain myself mostly.

The daycare provider's husband typically works during the day, but he occasionally comes home for lunch. When he does, he and the babysitter argue the whole time. The stomachaches that were beginning to improve after my parents split up come back, and I dread seeing his car in the driveway when I get there in the afternoon.

My mother goes to work every day before I get up in the morning. She comes in to kiss me before she leaves in the morning while I am still awake. One morning, she claims to have accidentally hit me in the head with her purse when she leans down to kiss me, but it doesn't wake me up.

My mother puts me in ballet and tap classes at the Weaver School of Dance on Lovell Street in Kalamazoo. I am the tallest person in the class beside the teacher, and I am awkward and not very coordinated. Nevertheless, I love it. I love the records and the barre exercises and forming a line at one end of the studio to do chassez and jetes across the wood floor. There are long windows that look over the driveway and I love to hear the sound of cars crunching into the parking lot behind the building.

My mother has a boyfriend. He is the head of the political science department at Western Michigan University. He does not seem thrilled that my mother is a package deal.

Sally, the other mother, has many boyfriends. One of them reads to Sally's daughter Genevieve and I every night--usually from Winnie the Pooh. He has a different voice for each character, including a very convincing British accent for Christopher Robin. Genevieve refers to him as Ga-Ga, and eventually, we all do--including Sally. Eventually, she unceremoniously dumps Ga-Ga in the front driveway of the house while her new boyfriend is out by the pool in the backyard, a scene which my mother still recalls with peals of wild laughter to this day.

Several weeks later, our bathroom in the basement is mysteriously locked from the inside and we can't get it unlocked. One night over dinner, there is much conversation regarding the locked door, how it came to be locked, and what might be trapped inside the bathroom. "Maybe Ga-Ga's in there," said my mother. I couldn't fathom what Ga-Ga would be doing in our bathroom, and why he didn't come out. It was the first time I can remember finding sarcasm funny.

One Friday night, my mother says that we're going to see The Great Muppet Caper with my Uncle Lonnie (he loves movies.) I asked her, "Is it a movie?" She said, "No, it's a caper." We went, and I was confused. It looks exactly like a movie to me. For years I am quite sure that there is something called a caper that is in every way similar to a movie, but in some indiscernable way different, and I am still just not in on the joke. I remain not entirely convinced that this is not the case. My mother regrets messing with a six-year-old's head.

My mother buys a house. It's in the Westnedge Hill neighborhood of Kalamazoo, a big four-bedroom clapboard house a couple of blocks from the school where I will begin first grade shortly. She has recently turned 40, and I think that she is feeling the pressures of being 40, single, and having a young child to raise. It's a wonderful house, in a neighborhood with lots of kids, with a big shady yard and a garage.

First grade starts. On the first day of school, I carry a bookbag with a picture of Big Bird on it, and every ten minutes or so, I open my desk to see the bookbag still in there. I have never had a desk that did anything as exciting as open and close before.

My best friend lives across the street. Her name is Kristen, and she is a middle child, and she has a record player in her room. Her parents swear in front of her and her siblings, but they don't fight. I love it at her house.

Kristen and I start gymnastics classes at the YMCA together. I love the uneven bars, but I am uncoordinated and inflexible when it comes to the balance beam and tumbling. At 6 1/2 years old, I am clearly already too tall and nowhere near graceful enough to excel either at dance or gymnastics. My mother signs me up for soccer instead, where I am the only girl on the soccer team. It does not do wonders for my fear of boys.

First grade is not going that well. It's a split class, first and second grade, and the teacher is completely overwhelmed with the discipline problems in an overcrowded classroom. I read at a level significantly above that of my peers, but she has no time to address it. I am also having trouble seeing the chalkboard. Glasses! All of a sudden, I'm not bumping into things anymore.

Over Spring Break, my mother and I share a condo on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her best friend and her two children. It's a wonderful vacation, except for the part where her best friend's son holds my doll off the edge of the deck and tries to get the seagulls to take it. I am not amused. Also on vacation, I lose a tooth, and put it under my pillow. I awake the next morning to find a $20 bill under my pillow. When I excitedly tell my mother, she looks horrified and tells me that the tooth fairy made a mistake, takes the $20, and gives me a dollar instead. I begin to suspect that my mother may not always be sufficiently upright and forthcoming with me.

During the summer, I spend part of my time with my Grandma and Grandpa Wade. They live up North in Michigan. They do not mention my father, and neither do I. Nevertheless, I enjoy the time I spend with them a lot. Grandma is a naturalist. She knows what all of the flowers and plants are, and what you can do with them, which ones can be made into tea, which ones can be eaten, which are poisonous even to touch. Grandpa is retired from the railroads. He hunts. They both paint. They live on the White River, and the people who live in the house next door have kids my age. One day, their father drives us several miles up the river to a public boat landing and we tube back down the river. It is pretty much the most fun I have ever had in my life.

To Be Continued...

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Story: Zero Through Five

In my first memory, I am lying in someone's lap (I don't know whose), looking up at the underside of the open drawbridge over the Black River in South Haven, Michigan. We are on the deck of a sailboat coming back from Lake Michigan, but again, I don't know whose. My mother is there. So is my father.


South Haven is the town where I lived until I was five years old. My parents bought a bargain of a house less than a city block from the public beach before I was born, and lived there until their decree of divorce ordered them to sell it. It is on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, a resort town whose population literally explodes every summer. In the winter, when I am born, it's a ghost town.


I was born slightly more than a month after the storm in which the Edmond Fitzgerald sank on Lake Superior. Hours south of there, I imagine my mother, eight months pregnant, standing in the dining room, looking out the enormous picture window at the 35-foot-tall waves crashing over the lighthouse at the end of the pier 1000 yards away, wondering what the everliving fuck to do if she went into labor that night.


The house where we live is a dark greenish-grey. The deck wraps around two sides of it: the side that faces the street and the side that faces the beach. There is a tiny two-car driveway between it and the house that belongs to the neighbors, a couple that, when I was young, seemed like the oldest people in the universe. Between our house and the beach, there is a huge triangle of public parking which we live, literally, at the tip of. At this tip of the parking lot, there is a fire hydrant. The summer that I am two, the South Haven volunteer fire department, of which my father is a member, paints the fire hydrant with blond curly hair and blue eyes, in a red gingham two-piece bathing suit, to resemble me.


My mother goes to work the day that I'm born, and although she waddles across the street to the hospital on her lunch hour to tell the emergency room on-call doctor that she thinks she may be in labor, he dismisses her, tells her to have a drink and go about her day. I am born six hours later. It is a Tuesday, five days after Christmas, 1975. Tiger Woods is born the same day.


When I am three years old, my mother slams my hand in the car door. It is one of the few occasions that I can remember she and my father being in the same place at the same time, and 29 years later, I realize that it happened because she was distracted by the argument she was having with him at the time. They take me to the hospital and have it X-rayed. Sometime around the same time, I fall asleep at the home daycare that I am enrolled in, and when I wake up, it is dark out. My mother arrives a few minutes later. She seems shaky, and trying to cover something up. It occurs to me, when their fighting wakes me up in the middle of the night that night, that my father was supposed to pick me up from daycare, and he forgot about me.


I begin to hide every time my parents begin to fight. I am hiding a lot by the time I am three, but then less so as my father is home less and less. Every time I see my mother crying, it makes my stomach hurt. Thirty years later, it still gives me a stomachache to see her cry.


My father manages a bar called The Lion's Den. There are bowls of shoestring potato chips on the bar and every time I am there, he gives me Shirley Temples to drink, except that they are called "Kiddie Cocktails" there. The waitresses there wear red vests. He works mostly nights. Sometimes when I'm with him, we visit his friends. His friends are mostly women, and mostly not as old as my mother. One time, he leaves me sitting in his truck outside an apartment building across the street from Bronsten Park for at least an hour. Other times, he leaves me with the teenaged daughter of a divorced mom who lives in a huge house on the harbor.


When I am four years old, I am playing one day with a boy my age whose grandparents live on the other side of the street and down a few houses. My mother calls on the phone and asks my friend's grandmother to send me home. She stands on the deck and watches me while I cross the street and the parking triangle, even though it is the off-season and there is no traffic. My father is home and my mother is angry. My father asks me to come into the dining room and sit on his lap, and he tells me that he has to go away. He is crying. My mother is crying too and my stomach hurts. He asks me to go get him a Kleenex, and I do. Before I come back, he's gone.


We move into Kalamazoo for the winter, into a rental house in the Westwood neighborhood. I am in daycare on Western Michigan University's campus, in a big A-frame church with a woods behind it. Sometimes my father is around, but mostly not. My mother still cries a lot.


On May 13, 1980, at 4 in the afternoon, an F-3 tornado hits Kalamazoo, Michigan. I can remember the sound of the phone ringing at the daycare where I am at the time. My mother is an editor for the newspaper, and the police scanner in the newsroom has reported the tornado. She is on the phone, calling to warn the daycare to get the students into the basement. Much later, my mother recalls standing in the second-floor window of the newspaper building and watching as the roof of the Comerica Building, a block away, blows away. Another block away, the back of Gilmore's Department Store collapses on a parking deck. Five people are killed and 79 are injured; Kalamazoo has $50,000,000 in damage. The daycare closes at the end of the day and my mother cannot get to me. There are trees down everywhere. I have to go home with one of the teachers and her son, who is my age. I am terrified that I will never see my mother again, and I cry and cry. She has never not been there to get me. She arrives to pick me up maybe fifteen minutes after we get to the teacher's house, but I am not comforted at all. I am still afraid of tornadoes today.


During a weekend visitation with my father (one of very few that he chooses to exercise) at our house on the beach, I discover that he has let a male friend move in to help pay the bills. The friend is gone for the weekend, but he sleeps in my room now. I go into the closet to look for an Incredible Hulk doll that I left on a shelf there. The doll is gone, and there is an enormous handgun on the shelf. I don't touch it, but I tell my mother later. She doesn't let me visit anymore, and, to the best of my knowledge, my father never knows or wonders why.


When I am five, my mother and I go to South Haven one weekend. We sit on the beach and play in the water and walk on the pier. We drive through the harbor. I see my father on a sailboat and I turn my head away quickly, before my mother sees me looking. Later that day, she is buying me an ice cream cone at the restaurant at the mouth of the channel where the Black River leads out between the two piers into the lake, when my father's boat sails past. Again, I look away before my mother can see him. I will not see him again for fourteen years.

To Be Continued...

Friday, September 12, 2008

What I Learned Today

I love Facebook. I have learned so much on it, including that people who I thought didn't like me in elementary school now want to be my friend.

I have serious questions about use of the word "friend" as employed by Facebook, but whatever.
But one of the things I've learned today, via facebook, is this: the bald guy in OKGo, the one who lip-syncs all their videos, is Tim Nordwind. He was in my fourth grade class.

He was the first hipster I ever met.

Mosaic Me

I love this.

1. Little Painter Molly, 2. enchiladas with red sauce, 3. Kalamazoo Central High School: Class of 1986, 4. Road To No Regret, 5. loud, 6. Acquarello, 7. View from the Westertoren, 8. Green tea banana walnut ice cream, 9. Day 106 - I am a librarian, 10. Joy of life, 11. here it comes, 12. Spotted him!

Here are the rules:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page of results, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My So-Called Quote

"It's such a lie that we should do what's in our hearts. If we all did what was in our hearts, the world would grind to a halt." -- Angela Chase, from "My So-Called Life"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

So Much More Than A White Dress

Dear Gerry and Trina,

Dan and I have been trying to think of something to say about marriage to the two of you. Basically, you couldn't find two bigger proponants of the institution than us. We have been married for four years, which isn't that long, but four years is as long as you spend in high school, or getting a college degree (or a third of a college degree, in some cases.) It's not an insignificant amount of time. In that four years, we've moved halfway across the country, we've gotten new jobs, we've lost family members, made new friends, rediscovered old ones, encountered crushing disappointment, had a baby, watched him start to grow up. And we've done it side by side, which is what marriage is about. We haven't always seen things eye-to-eye, but the point is that you will continue to have moments of significance throughout your life, and this other person will be there to bear witness.

In four years of marriage, we've learned some things. In lieu of our wedding present, which still isn't finished (but to be fair I'm making significant headway), we have the following pieces of marriage related advice for you. Like all advice, it is at least 38% bullshit and possibly not at all applicable to your marriage, but it's what we've learned.

One is to never go grocery shopping when you're hungry. You'll blow your budget completely. This is actually a good lesson for anybody. A corollary of this rule is that, although you're newlyweds and perpetually on your honeymoon and you can barely go to the bathroom without each other at this point, it is really best to grocery shop alone. I spend so much less money when I grocery shop alone, it's ridiculous. I don't know why that is.

A marriage is like an inside joke. Once a lot of other people become privy to the joke, it is not as funny.

Another thing that we've learned is to never try to move furniture or hang artwork after 9 p.m. It is a sure recipe for a knock-down, drag-out fight. No matter how good a mood you start out in, no matter how firmly in agreement you are about the right thing to do, three hours later you will both be sweaty, furious, not a single step closer to having things arranged how you want them, and quite sure that you've married the only person on earth who can screw up the use of a laser level.
Your spouse is family you choose. This information is more important than you think.

Sometimes you feel like this person's conjoined twin, sometimes you will need a little space. Sometimes you will feel like you will never run out of things to say to each other, and sometimes you will worry that you will never have anything to say to each other again. Sometimes you will feel like everything is worth it all the time, and sometimes you will feel you've never been happier than when you were living alone. In every case, you are both right and wrong, simultaneously.

Don't assume that your spouse can read your mind, but if you're trying to hide something, keep in mind that this person knows you better than anyone has ever known you, and part of the reason you married them is their brain. You are probably getting away with much less than you think you are.

Your marriage is not a static thing--you will go through cycles of being close to each other and needing distance, talking a lot and leaving things unsaid, getting along famously and bickering a lot. There is a level of comfort in getting the distance that you need and knowing that you can come back, knowing that you can argue with your spouse without them holding a grudge.

Don't hold grudges.

Respect each other's privacy, space, needs, dignity, foibles, pet peeves, and opinions. You can safely assume that someone who loves you will willingly make sacrifices for your happiness and safety from time to time, but you didn't marry a martyr. Neither did they.

In my experience, relationships fail because women expect men to change, and they don't; and men expect women not to change, and they do. Accepting your partner for who they are, or aren't, is a key to living happily with another person.

An excellent way to end a fight with your wife is to suggest that she might feel better after a nap. Then make it possible for her to take one. Likewise, an excellent way to end a fight with your husband is to suggest that he might feel better after a snack. Then make it possible for him to have one.

Pick your battles, and learn when not to talk.

Whatever challenge, opportunity, disappointment, disaster, or hardship comes your way, remember that you are on the same side. You chose each other for a reason. You are each other's advocate, partner, and best friend, and those things are even more important than the mere formal title of husband and wife. You were those things before you stood up in front of your friends and family and took vows, and, at least in my mind, they are just as sacred, just as significant, and just as permanent as the vows you took.

Don't worry. Marriage is easier than it looks. Anyone who tells you how "marriage is a lot of really hard work" may potentially be doing something wrong. I have found being married to be a hell of a lot less work and complication than being single ever was.

I love quotes. This is part of what our friend Kurt read at our wedding, and I found it to be profound then, and still true now:

"Marriage hath in it less of beauty but more of safety, than the single life; it
hath more care, but less danger, it is more merry, and more sad; it is fuller of
sorrows, and fuller of joys; it lies under more burdens, but it is supported by
all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful." --
Bishop Jeremy Taylor
Dan and I wish you both the best of luck. We hope you find marriage as otherworldly as we have, and we are thinking of you this weekend.


Molly and Dan